AfDB president Adesina fights back against corruption accusations

African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina speaks during an interview with Reuters in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania August 17, 2019. Picture taken August 17, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Herman
FILE PHOTO: African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina speaks during a past event. (Photo credit PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

The president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina pledged to continue working as he fought back against allegations of corruption and favouritism leveled against him.

Anonymous whistleblowers had accused Adesina of embezzlement, preferential treatment of Nigerians in senior appointments and promoting people accused or found guilty of fraud and corruption.

Adesina issued a press statement on Wednesday in which he strongly criticised what he termed “unprecedented attempts” to taint his reputation with accusations which have shaken the institution.

“I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank,” Adesina said.

“I am confident that fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the Bank, and rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution.”

Adesina’s response comes after the US Treasury Department wrote a letter urging the AfDB to carry out an independent investigation into the alleged ethics breaches by Adesina.

However, an internal inquiry by the Bank’s Ethics Committee cleared Adesina of all charges prompting whistle-blowers to demand an independent inquiry after their complaint did not appear to gain momentum.

Mnuchin said that a complete dismissal of allegations against Adesina without adequate investigation would taint the AfDB’s reputation at a critical point in time. He added that further inquiry was necessary to ensure the AfDB’s President had “broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate” from shareholders.

The 60-year-old has previously denied the allegations labeling them as an attempt to discredit him from seeking another term at the helm of Africa’s largest multilateral lender.

Adesina, formerly Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, was elected as the 8th President of the AfDB in 2015. He is the sole candidate in this year’s race at an annual general meeting scheduled for August.

The United States is the second largest shareholder of the AfDB with a 6.5 percent stake behind Nigeria, Adesina’s home country, which has a nine percent stake.